If you haven’t heard of the Algarve before, brace yourself. You’re about to be struck with a serious case of wanderlust. If you’re looking for a gorgeous destination to escape the Australian winter, a trip to the Algarve could be perfect for you.

But hold on, wait a minute, isn’t Algarve that weird stuff that people use for cooking instead of sugar? Mate, that’s agave! Close, though. Anyway, enough of that, here are 10 very good reasons why the Algarve must go on your travel bucket list, pronto!

1. Breathtaking beaches

The Algarve coast is an almost endless stretch of picture-perfect beaches, in the south of Portugal. If you’re looking to find some of the best beaches in Europe, this is where you want to be. It’s home to some 170 beaches, each more beautiful than the last. You’ll find the water a brilliant shade of sparkling, Mediterranean blue, cool and crisp, inviting you in to swim and play all day. Long stretches of perfect golden sand are dotted with brightly coloured towels and sun-soaking tourists, enjoying every moment of their beach break. Must visit beaches include Praia da Marinha, Camilo BeachPraia da Falésia and Praia da Amoreira.

2. Castles and villages

The amazing thing about Europe is you can find gorgeous beaches and mythical castles really close to one another, it’s mind-blowing! Of course, the Algarve is no exception, there are many beautiful and interesting castles, museums, churches and villages to visit and they’re all photogenic as all heck. Not to be missed is the Castle of Silves, which sits in the city centre of Silves. It’s straight out of your European castle dreams, sitting atop a hill in the centre of town, surrounded by crisp white buildings with orange tiled roofs, standing proud and incredibly well preserved.

Albufeira Cathedral Cave. Image: hikenow.net
Albufeira Cathedral Cave. Image: hikenow.net

3. Stunning cliffs and caves

The coastline in the Algarve is dramatic and breathtaking, making for amazing photographs and also cool places to explore, especially if you don’t mind a bit of hiking. You’ll find stunning cliffs and some pretty spectacular caves, too. You’ll find great views at Cape Saint Vincent and Algar Seco and you can organise to do a cave exploration tour, that’ll take you to some of the most incredible spots where you can swim inside caves, in perfect water.

4. Luxurious holiday villas

Being a must-visit destination for travel lovers, the Algarve is rich with fabulous holiday villas. There are many gorgeous villas in Algarve to choose from, including those close to the beach, with private pools and straight out of your Mediterranean escape fantasies, painted white and set against lush green gardens. The hardest part is choosing just one, then tearing yourself away from it when your holiday ends. So sad.

Image: Lakeside Village Casa La Paz Quinta do Lago
Image: Lakeside Village Casa La Paz Quinta do Lago

5. Wine

Ohhhhh yes. If you were on the fence about it, I’m pretty sure this has just sealed the deal for you. If Europeans know one thing, it’s how to make a mighty fine wine and I’m totally cool with that. The good thing for us is that there are quite a few fantastic wineries in the Algarve and you can arrange to spend a day (or 10) on guided wine tours of the area. This means you get to drink all the wine, without having to watch how much you drink because there’s already a designated driver. You can find out more about wine tours here, but there are quite a few companies offering tours, so do some research to find one that suits you best.

6. Awesome photo opportunities

With all those perfect beaches, amazing cliff faces, dramatic caves and beautiful little villages, dotted with historic churches and castles, it’s no wonder the Algarve is a photographers dream. There are so many great places to take photos, you’ll definitely need to pack your tripod and all the memory cards you can carry. There are some great tips on finding the best photography spots, here.  I’d also recommend taking a GoPro or underwater camera so you can get some great water shots.

Reasons to visit the Algarve

7. Delicious food

Travel is 90% about the food and 10% about the other stuff like culture. There’s a big focus, in Portugal, on fresh food, cooked to perfection. In the Algarve, you’ll find yourself spoilt with fresh seafood and other fine fares, just don’t ask them about Nando’s because that’s not a thing in Portugal. For real. Be sure to visit as many local bakeries as you can, stocking up on sweet treats and sampling Portuguese egg tarts. Must-try restaurants in the Algarve include Solar do Farelo, Restaurante Dom Carlos and Nougat Tea’n for coffee and delightful sweet treats.

8. So many activities

There are a LOT of things to keep you occupied, so I’ll just list a few. You can take a Jeep Safari, go cycling or hiking, take a cruise or go deep-sea fishing, enjoy ab buggy tour, explore museums, visit the Marine Zoo or check out the water slide park. Whatever you decide to do, you’ll be spoilt for fun! There are also quite a few tour groups that offer tours of the Algarve, a great way to see as much as possible in a short amount of time.

Best travel resources for your trip!

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